Lowe’s Canada president joins first grand opening

Don Stallings, president of Lowe’s Canada, and Matt Basso, store manager, were joined by Brampton, Ontario Mayor Susan Fennell during the opening of Lowe's first location in Canada. HCN was there to cover the retailer’s entrance into the Canadian market.

Two other locations opened that day in Brantford and Hamilton.

Lowe’s may have opened its first Canadian locations Dec 10, but the company’s emergence into the Canadian market has been a long time coming. Two years to be exact. But in a market that’s showing tremendous growth opportunities for American investment, Lowe’s is moving slowly and cautiously.

Don Stallings, president of Lowe’s Canada, said that the key to making Lowe’s successful in Canada is to make the retailer truly Canadian.

He said it would be a mistake to merely take the “U.S. model and drop it off across the border ... hire a few Americans to run everything and expect it to do great.”

Stallings said that they were very methodical in researching the Canadian market, the Canadian home and hardware customer and Canadian products and merchants to determine the best fit for Lowe’s Canada.

“We might have brought the culture and the shape of the box, we try to then bring the products that will appeal to the Canadian consumer,” he said.

Stallings said that their research showed that the Canadian consumer is very discerning, they are more contemporary oriented and the projects that they do are larger scale renovation or rebuild projects.

“I think there’s a lot of correlations that are similar, but more importantly, the differences are extremely subtle, but they’re geared toward Canadian,” he said.

The company led into the openings with a series of television ads featuring a customer-oriented home and hardware store with help buttons in every aisle.

“If our lines have more than three customers, we’ll open up another so you don’t have to wait,” the commercial promises.

Lowe’s opened three Ontario locations Dec. 10 in South Brampton, Hamilton and Brantford, with plans to open three more by the end of the year. And while Lowe’s has more than 100 new Canadian locations planned, Stallings said they’re in no rush. “It’s more important for us to be strategic and methodical and not open them before we’re ready.”